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Making a comic

eliseu gouveiaeliseu gouveia Registered User
edited October 2006 in Ancient Forum Knowledge
Hi, folks,

this is my first tutorial, a very basic approach to how I usually "attack" a comicbook page.
It´s most likely not the best or most effective way to create a comicbook page, it´s just the way "I" do it.

Anyone can tell you how completelly at random an idea for a story can appear.
My first album, Medusa31, about a member of a S.W.A.T team created to fight superjunkies came during a New Year´s Eve hangover, when I was making mental word association games and the word "Herkulizants" (from the word "Herkules") appeared.

So, there´s no special “How to” rule to it, an idea comes when it comes, you just have to grab it.
Just keep a piece of paper handy to write it down.
I´ve actually started keeping a couple next to my bed, since lately my dreams seem to turn out far more creative than anything I ever wrote.


A good idea can take you a long way, but the way you organise it to sell it to the reader is the secret behind best sellers.
This is where writers come in, they structure, organize, nurture and develop the idea into a story.
I won´t dwell on it too much since this is a comicbook tut, not a literature one.
Basically, when you´re finish writing a comicbook script, you should have a stack of pages that look something like this:
PAGE 6 (four panels)

PANEL 1: Long shot of Tamerlane in mid-flight as he fires a green ball of energy at the incoming hordes of supervillains



PANEL 2: Bird´s eye view of the battle that rages across the floating city. Chaos is everywhere, as superheroes and supervilains duick it out. Think all-out carnage, but keep it PG-13.



PANEL 3: Medium shot of the 4 psychic girls who are telepatically supervising the defenders. They´re all linked to a machine to boost their coordination efforts. Behind them, undercover of the dark, one of the supervillains managed to sneak through the ducts and now emerges in the room ready to attack the girls.





PANEL 4: Still hidden in the shadows, the mysterious individual fires an energy blast from his hand, killing the 4 psychic girls.


PSYCHIC GIRLS (in unison)- AARRRGH![/i]


However, I don´t usually do that. It´s a pain, especially since I´m usually the one who draws all that. And since the penciller and the writer are the same person, we can jump on to the fun part of making a comic.


Ths is how my comics are usually born.
Just a random set of sheets I tape together and where I write, set up the page layout and plan the roughs and even word ballon placement.

There is fun in writing. There is fun in penciling, inking and coloring.
But for me, nothing is as fun as working with these stacks of sheets, you can take them everywhere, flip them, add notes, check for pacing and time the sequences accordingly, write, erase, doodle, make collages… this is the heart of it all.

A page breakdown is a rough idea of what the page will look like, how the pannels will be organised, what side of the panel the character is, where word ballons go. I´ve seen all types of page breakdowns, from ones that looked like stick figures to those that could pass as finished pencils.
Mine dwell somewhere inbetween.

In projects where I play all the instruments, from writing to “lettering”, my pencil breakdowns are usually hideous. I´m not planning on showing them to anyone, so I can cut me some slack .


When I´m collaborating with other folks, however, I usually have to put a little more heart into it (or else I´ll scare the writer off ;) ).


eliseu gouveia on


  • eliseu gouveiaeliseu gouveia Registered User
    edited January 2006
    Unless you plan to sell the pencils at a con (kinda hard when you live in the other aside of the pond) it doesn´t really matter, as long as you polish it all up in the final inks.


    4. PENCILS

    I usually skip this part.
    Since I´m both the penciler and inker, I can jump from breakdowns straight to inks, Saves an unbelievable amount of time,
    Ideally, this is how a pencilled page would Iook like if I were to work with an inker.


    Notice the attention payed to the finishing touches.
    There´s no need for that.
    Theorectically., things like line weight are the inker´s Job.
    So, when do you make pencils this tight?
    1) when you´re trying to impress future would-be employers (submissions).
    2) when your inker is so bad that you want to make absolutelly sure that the final page will (somewhat) resemble what you had in mind.
    3) when on top of that your colorist is so bad that you have to spell it all out for him too.

    In the end, a page this squeaky clean takes anywhere from a day and a half to two days, an eternity in comicbook production standards.
    Aim for 1 to 2 pencilled pages a day if you want your publisher to keep returning your calls.

    5. INKS

    Inking is an art.
    Some people may call it tracing. Feel free to smack them in the head if they do. Repeatedly.
    Inking requires talent, skill and not everyone is good at it.
    I´ve seen outstanding pencilers commit murder in broad daylight (often with witnesses), killing amazing pencils with their gruesome inks.
    It´s a vision from Hell. Really.

    I won´t develop this chapter since I´m the last person that should teach anyone anything about coloring.
    I was learning series and theorems from people called silly things like Faraday, Lagrange, Rolle and Cauchy when I should be learning Colour Theory.
    This is just for those curious to see what that initial page script turned out to look like.



    I won´t develop this one either. Lettering was never my forte, I know where I want the ballons to go, I set up some dead space for the letterer to work her/his magic and I get out of the way. Bad things happen when i try to letter my own pages.


    The standard size for a comicbook page is 11” X 17”.
    After you´ve done your penciling and inking, the page is scaled down to print size, so, you have to stay very aware of these followoing numbers.

    Write them down and keep them handy, they are your friends:

    Bleed: 6,875 X 10,497
    Trim 6,625 X 10,187
    Live 6,125 X 9,687

    BLEED is your canvas. Your domain
    Here, you rule supreme, free to draw to your heart´s desire.

    TRIM is all that´s left of your page after it has visited the butcher. According to legend, there is a demoness hidden in every Printer called Guillotine who mutilates your every page, cutting its borders off to claim as their own. Her apetite is relentless and if you put an important detail of your drawing too close to the edge, chances are she´ll chop it right off.
    So, rule of thumb; keep crucial details inside 6,625 X 10,187, it´s Holy Ground.

    LIVE is the área reserved for your panels.


  • eliseu gouveiaeliseu gouveia Registered User
    edited January 2006

    The way you set the "camera" makes all the difference between a visually exciting story and a yawn.
    Here´s some standard concepts used both in comics and cinema.

    Panoramic Shot – sometimes, this can be called the Establishing Shot. It´s usually a wide panel seen from a distance that emcompasses everything in your scene.


    Long Shot – A notch below the panoramic shot, this is the character´s full body shot that also shows a bit of its surroundings.


    Médium Shot – A more intimate shot, you see these a lot in sitcoms where they show a character from the waist up.


    Close-Ups – your panel locks on to a single detail, be it a hand, a face or a bloody knife in the kitchen sink.


  • eliseu gouveiaeliseu gouveia Registered User
    edited January 2006

    Bird´s eye view – Also called a high angle, this is when the camera is placed above the scene


    Worm´s eye view – Or low angle, is when the camera is placed at a very low height (imagine that it´s being operated by a worm).
    You see these a lot in superhero comics, characters shot from below to make them look more imposing and majestic.
    Like in Leni Riefenstahl movies.


    Reverse shot – It´s when you turn the camera around to show what the character is looking at. Duh.



    I love pin-ups.
    However, a comic is not made of splashpages, it´s made of sequentials.
    The good sequential is the group of panels that when combined, give us a sense of continuity in action.


    There is nothing worst for a comicbook artist than to have a reader look at your work as if it was a rubik cube.
    The reader wants to be immersed in your universe, not struggle to understand what happended from a panel to the next .
    The good storyteller lays it all out in the open for them to see what happens.

    Your page hás to be so clear from one panel to the next that a person can look at it and understand what happened even without the word ballons to spell it out.


    So many rules and numbers....

    Just assimilate it and then you can start having fun.

    You don´t get into comics because you want to make money (there are far smarter ways to acchieve that), you get into comics because you want to tell stories.
    And when it comes to telling stories, comics hás no rivals.

    It only takes imagination, a pencil, and a paper.

  • benz0rsbenz0rs Registered User
    edited January 2006

    I dont know if this should be moved/linked from the tutorial thread, but I think it would be a good idea.

  • ProjeckProjeck Registered User regular
    edited January 2006

  • McGibsMcGibs Registered User regular
    edited January 2006

    very informative.

    but yet another reason why I dont wanna go into comics as a career. I like my organized choatic approach to attacking my comics. I think my brain would liquify if i actually did every one of those steps.

    The panel part was helpful for me.

  • Stupid Mr Whoopsie NameStupid Mr Whoopsie Name Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2006
    very nicely done. I think later tonight I'll take the appropriate steps to make sure this thread is saved.

  • Toji SuzuharaToji Suzuhara Southern CaliforniaRegistered User regular
    edited January 2006
    Here are some scanning tips that Becky Amazing Cloonan gave me, and I'll share with you. Since you might find them useful if you're scanning to print.
    Ok let me give you some hints on scanning and saving stuff high res- i am assuming u got photoshop, right? well to make file size a lot smaller- think under 200k- here are some tips:

    scan really high res. like 600 dpi in black and white. that is pretty standard print size for b/w comics. then, adjust your levels ( i am assuming you use photoshop! if not.. umm... XD i dunno! ha ha!) anyway, get the levels so there is little or no grey area- all the whites are white and blacks are black. none of this grey pixel stuff.

    then go to image>mode>bitmap. that will compress the file size. use 50% threshold, and 600 dpi. the save with lzw compression and voila!!! tiny file, set for print! save it as a tiff and off ya go!! but working in bitmaps is very limited, always switch to greyscale (again image>mode>greyscale make sure ratio is at 1) and that will allow you to fuck with the image as normal :D

    anyway!! thought i'd send some tips over. heh its really usefull, and saves a lot of space.

    Thanks again!! :D


    This is a very solid how-to. I go through most of these steps myself. Props!

  • BroloBrolo Broseidon Lord of the BroceanRegistered User regular
    edited January 2006
    Awesome thread. Thank you for this.

  • ToadTheMushroomToadTheMushroom Registered User
    edited January 2006
    That's like eight different flavors of amazing.

    He seems to project beyond himself, exerting a kind of Reggie Field that dogs and many birds find unpleasant. Hearing a man speak with this much drive and confidence about an imaginary plumber is sort of enthralling.
  • FantasyrogueFantasyrogue Registered User regular
    edited January 2006
    Wow. Really interesting read :^:

  • freeman till im caughtfreeman till im caught Registered User
    edited January 2006
    That was rather useful, especially the aspect about needing absolute clarity in telling a story.

    Let's Digress now Kings Put your Cans up, Paint the city scope with the Prettiest type of Cancer
  • eliseu gouveiaeliseu gouveia Registered User
    edited January 2006
    Thanks a lot, guys, I hope this has been helpful, I really look forward to seeing your sequential works posted. :)

    I´ve hanged with loads of folks who talk and talk and talk and talk about this great comic they are planning to make.
    My advice is: Don´t Talk.
    Don´t Think about doing a comic.

    Just grab a pencil and a paper and do it.


    Toji, those are very helpful figures you´ve got.

    I´ve never worked at 600dpi myself.

    Minimum resolution for print work is 300dpi, so I usually stick to working at 11" X 17" at 300dpi.
    Once I´m done, I make a copy, flatten it and scale it down to 6.875" X 10.497" at 450 dpi before mailing it to TPTB.

  • Lewis RiceLewis Rice Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    This could be helpfull..Allthough I tend to think of the guidlines of the story first then write the script while im drawing the first scribbley draft.

  • El Puncho McCrazy FistsEl Puncho McCrazy Fists Registered User regular
    edited October 2006

    i have to warn you, no man has ever come out alive from gay sexings with me
    Talon wrote:
    [Your name] makes me think of a drunk dude in a sombrero walking around flailing his arms in an electron-cloud of fists with his eyes closed in a perpectual yell
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